From fancy filets to affordable cuts, here’s how to have a delicious steak at any price point.
Steak is the perfect foundation for a filling and flavorful dinner. Paired with potatoes and veggies, braised inside a stew or sliced thin for a mile-high sandwich. The possibilities are endless! But how do you know which cut of beef is best for the meal? Which is the most affordable, and how do you cook them for the most tender result? Here’s a general guide for buying the best cut of steak for your budget, how they taste, and how to cook them.
Ribeye, T-Bone, Filet Mignon, NY Strip
If you’re looking for steaks at a high-price point, you’ll find the famous ribeye, T-bone, filet mignon and NY strip, among others. They’re cut from the cow muscles that don't get worked very much, leading to extremely tender meat.
Ribeye will have the most fat marbling, and that equals flavor. And the bone in the T-bone brings deep flavor to that cut. The NY strip can be cut in hefty portions, allowing it to be delicately cooked to rare temperatures. And the filet mignon, which can be the most expensive, is going to be extremely tender and not very fatty.
Cooking Tips: Because fat packs flavor, don’t over-season or marinade the ribeye and let the steak itself shine. Don’t risk overcooking the lean filet by throwing it on the grill, so stick with the broiler and/or stovetop.
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Sirloin, Skirt, Flank
These affordable cuts are typically taken from the abdominal area of the cow. They won’t be quite as tender as pricier cuts, but they’ll still hold all the flavor you could want.
The sirloin steak is a classic cut used in tons of recipes. It’ll get you a lot for bang for your buck with how tender and flavorful it is at the price point. You’ll see the flank steak as a large flat cut, which makes it perfect for a family meal. And the similar skirt steak is slightly less tender but packed with fatty marbling and flavor.
Cooking Tips: Sirloin cooks well on both the grill and stovetop, just be sure to keep it under medium or it starts getting tough. Flank steak takes bold marinades well and is best when grilled to medium-rare. Skirt steaks will also need a marinade to help keep it tender. They’re perfect for tacos, fajitas and stir-fries.
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Chuck, Tri-Tip, Fat Iron
Low cost does not mean low quality here. Steaks at budget-friendly price points are typically from the cow’s muscles that get a lot of work over its lifetime. So while they’ll be tougher, they make wonderful and flavorful meals with the right prep and cooking.
The chuck steak comes from the shoulder and loves a good marinade before cooking. The classic triangle-shaped tri-tip is a loin cut that carries some good meaty flavor. The flat iron, also from the shoulder, is a juicy steak when the tough center tissue is removed.
Cooking Tips: After marinading the chuck, baste it with its juices or butter while cooking to medium or medium-rare. Cut against the grain for tender slices. The tri-tip's fat marbling brings the flavor, and it’s good for grilling or roasting. Grill or pan-sear the flat iron to medium or medium-rare.
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